President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday apologized to Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), the soldier wrongfully executed by the military 14 years ago for the rape and murder of a little girl, as well as to Chiang’s family. He also asked the Ministry of National Defense to clear Chiang’s name and help his family seek compensation.
Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said Ma deeply regretted what happened.
“As the president of the Republic of China, President Ma has the responsibility to offer his most sincere apology to Chiang and his family on behalf of the government,” Lo quoted Ma as saying.
“President Ma has asked the ministry to conduct a thorough examination of this serious violation of human rights in the military,” Lo said. “Such an occurrence can never be allowed to happen again.”
Ma also told the ministry to determine who should be held responsible for the mistake and deal with those responsible in accordance with the law, Lo said.
However, there is a possibility that none of the military officers involved in the wrongful conviction and execution will be punished due to statute of limitations set forth under relevant laws, judicial sources said yesterday.
Although the case occurred 15 years ago and the judicial environment has changed substantially since then, Lo said the government would continue to commit itself to reform.
“This case makes the administration more determined to push reform,” Lo said. “We will not tolerate such injustices occurring to innocent people again.”
Earlier in the day, the ministry had issued an official apology to Chiang’s family — a day after it admitted to wrongdoing in his conviction and execution, and promised to help the family seek compensation.
Chiang was executed on Aug. 13 1997, but his family never gave up trying to clear his name. Judicial authorities have now determined that his conviction was incorrect.
On Friday, Taipei prosecutors arrested Hsu Jung-chou (許榮洲) as a suspect in the case. Hsu has a record of sexual offenses and the Taipei District Court approved a request for his detention.
About 30 military officials involved in Chiang’s arrest, trial and execution are facing criminal and administrative investigations, including former minister of national defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏), who was chief of Air Force Command at the time and ordered the air force’s counterintelligence unit to take over the case.
However, Chen told TVBS via telephone on Sunday evening that it was “too early to say whether I have to apologize to Chiang and his family.”
“Chiang knelt in front of me voluntarily when he saw me and apologized for what he had done,” Chen said. “As the judicial system has launched an investigation, we must wait and cooperate with the investigation. When the final verdict is announced, we believe it will be just.”
A Control Yuan report said that in notes Chiang wrote in prison, he said he had been threatened with an electric baton, exposed to strong light and forced to undergo physical activity all night during his interrogations. In letters Chiang sent to his family while in prison, he wrote that investigators told him “the chief [Chen Chao-min] is coming to see you. When he arrives, remember to kneel before him and ask for help. The chief will save you.”
Chiang’s letters were released by his mother, Wang Tsai-lien (王彩蓮).